The classic novel of the Dillinger era in America "Love as hot as a blow torch . . . crime as vicious as the jungle" (from the original 1948 edition)
Beginning with a prison breakout and re-establishment back into his life of crime, Ralph proves to be a violent, self-centred man. His life revolves around making money, and if that means robbery and murder is involved, then so be it. He is joined by Holiday, a jealous, suspicious and spiteful gangster's moll of low-morals who is prepared to sleep with any man who walks through her door, and Jinx, a small time crook happy to hang on to the coattails of Ralph's criminal genius. They are all a group of criminals who are anything but reliable, willing to rat each other out for any price.
The unnamed city in which the book is set is filled with corruption, from the criminals themselves to the crooked cops who police it. The grab for money is intense and morals are non-existent.
As with all noir stories, there are no good or nice characters, most of them are pretty repugnant people, and there is no chance of even a remotely happy ending.
Take a con who's Ivy League educated and has warped aspirations of making himself as corrupt as possible. Yeah, do that, and at the same time, let him keep his three-dollar words to throw in when he feels like it, when he wants to prove--to himself, mostly--that he's a hell of a lot more educated than the guys he 'admires': Alvin Karpis, Pretty Boy Floyd, John Dillinger. It's a potent mix, and McCoy does it up just right. The language is not stupid; it's perfect, reflecting the main character (Ralph Cotter)'s twisted psyche. Everything's from his point of view.
You got your shysters, your corrupt cops, your wicked women. Oh yeah, you got 'em, all right, but when they're in the picture, the dialogue snaps like a wet Coney Island towel wielded by a wiseguy.
You wanna good read that reminds you of American knowhow--as in I know how to push your buttons, buddy? I know how to give you a story that tells you about the things Americans think about, but don't talk about.
This is it. This is an egg whose shell you can't break. That's how hardboiled this is.
But even a guy like him can't do anything againt the system. When he meets Margaret Dobson he doesn't know he just entered a world of lies and compromising. After a while Margaret presents him as her husband to her millionaire, overpowerful father, who doesn't like it at all. When he's gone Margaret says they have to go and get married at once. Of course Ralph - who meanwhile took the name of Paul Murphy - doesn't want to get married but she uses some verbal threatening to force him, he can't do anything. He refuses the money for annulment of the marriage, in order to get rid of her and not be chased. But by doing this he doesn't do anything but seduce Margaret and her father, who finally chase him. The Dobson family gives Margaret to him for a million dollars.Read more ›